By Evan Carmichael on April 6th, 2010
Network Solutions, LLC and the University of Maryland recently came out with a “State of Small Business Report” to take the pulse of what small business owners thinking. They surveyed 1,000 entrepreneurs and over the coming weeks I’ll be sharing some of the results that came back.
Last time the discussion was on Creativity as a strategy for success. This week I want to focus on the boom in social media.
Week 2: The Boom In Social Media
One technology application that is experiencing substantial growth is a social media presence, such as having a blog, FaceBook page or LinkedIn profile. The incidence of small businesses having a social media presence has doubled from 12 percent to 24 percent in the past 12 months.
“Almost one out of five small business owners actively uses social media for a part of their business.”
Almost one out of five small business owners actively uses social media for a part of their business. The main types of social media uses include:
- A company page on a social networking site (75 percent)
- Posting status updates or articles of interest on social media sites (69 percent)
- Building a network through a site like LinkedIn (57 percent)
- Monitoring feedback about the business (54 percent)
- Maintaining a blog (39 percent)
- Tweeting about areas of expertise (26 percent)
- Using Twitter as a service channel (16 percent)
Does social media pay?
The majority of small business owners who use social media – 58 percent – feel the medium has so far “met expectations.” Another 12 percent feel it has “exceeded expectations” but twice as many, 26 percent, feel it has “fallen short of expectations.” The major accomplishments of social media so far are related to marketing and service, and
- Identifying and attracting new customers (61 percent of users)
- Developing higher awareness of the business in its target market (52 percent)
- Staying engaged with current customers (46 percent)
“Half (50 percent) of users feel it has used up more time than expected.”
Social media also helps some small businesses to collaborate effectively with their network of suppliers, partners and colleagues (35 percent) and among employees (21 percent). This collaboration has the potential to spur productivity and creativity among small businesses as their connectivity rises exponentially.
Social media is not without problems. For example, half (50 percent) of users feel it has used up more time than expected. Only 17 percent feel social media has resulted in allowing people to criticize their business, though experts would note this provides a chance to engage critics (only 6 percent feel social media has hurt the business image through negative comments more than helped it). How has social media affected the bottom line of small business?
- Looking at the past 12 months, only 22 percent believe social media use has been profitable; 19 percent believe it lost money, and 53 percent believe it just paid for itself.
- The future is brighter as small business owners learn to master the medium. Almost half (45 percent) expect social media to be profitable in the next twelve months.
Are you using social media to build your business? How are you using it effectively so you’re not just wasting time?
I’ve love to hear your thoughts if you leave a comment below!
Tags: 12 months, attracting new customers, blog, boom, business report, creativity, last time, marketing, media presence, network solutions, small business owners, small businesses, social networking site, status updates, substantial growth, target market, technology application, Twitter, university of maryland